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A recent survey[1] showed that the number of Americans who have some form of estate plan in place has fallen by over 25% in the past three years. 42% of those surveyed had a Will or Trust in place in 2017, which fell to only 31% this year. With Covid-19 impacting people of all ages indiscriminately, now is the time to put some protection in place for your loved ones.

Estate planning ranges from a simple Will for those that want to ensure the assets they have go to those they love, to a complex trust aimed at shielding assets from taxes or nursing home expenses. Just as important as those documents, however, are the Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Health Care Directive, which should form part of any worthwhile estate plan.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney appoints one or more Agents to handle your financial affairs on your behalf. This can be beneficial if you are incapacitated or quarantined for a period of time. At the time you sign a Power of Attorney, you will specify what powers can be exercised, so it is important to carefully consider who you name as your Agent(s).

Health Care Proxy

In some ways similar to the Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy will appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make them for whatever reason.

Health Care Directive

Alongside the Health Care Proxy, a Health Care Directive or Living Will states what level of medical intervention you would want if you face a limited chance of survival or a serious reduction in quality of life. While this document is not binding on your Health Care Proxy or the medical staff that may treat you, it will provide guidance to your loved ones.

A properly constructed estate plan can accomplish a number of goals depending on your specific situation, which is why it is important to consult an experienced attorney to discuss your options. The attorneys at J&G Law, LLP, are here to provide guidance in these uncertain times.

[1] https://www.caring.com/caregivers/estate-planning/wills-survey

This is not intended to be legal advice.  You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.

Martin Butcher was senior counsel with the firm and practiced Matrimonial and Family Law, Estate Planning and Bankruptcy.

You can reach us by phone at 845-764-9656 and by email.

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